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Otago Marsden Funding Research Successes

Otago’s Marsden Funding Successes Reflect Breadth Of Research Excellence

University of Otago researchers have won 10 contracts to undertake fundamental research in the Government’s latest Marsden funding round.

The innovative projects range from finding a way to refine ‘atom chips’ to form the basis of supercomputers, to shedding new light on the evolution of different forms and structures of animals, to exploring the development of New Zealand’s culinary traditions and the major social, economic and technological changes that have shaped them.

The researchers, who represent a wide range of disciplines in the University’s Sciences, Health Sciences and Humanities divisions, have secured contracts for eight projects as well as two ‘Fast Start’ grants for young and emerging researchers.

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Geoff White says he congratulates the researchers for their “brilliant effort in achieving success in a funding round that is extremely competitive”.

“As only around seven per cent of all initial applications nationwide were eventually funded, the success of their bids is testament to the very high quality of their research proposals, their calibre as researchers and the strong research culture at Otago in general,” says Professor White.

Otago’s successful proposals cover six of the Marsden fund’s eight eligible research areas.

The six areas were ‘Biochemical and Biomedical Sciences’, ‘Cellular, Molecular and Physiological Biology’, ‘Earth Sciences and Astronomy’, ‘Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour’, ‘Social Sciences’ and ‘Physical Sciences and Engineering’, demonstrating the breadth of the University’s research expertise, he says.

The two ‘Fast Start’ grants went to:

Dr Murray Barrett (Physics) for Micro-fabricated atom traps for quantum information processing Dr Hallie Buckley (Anatomy & Structural Biology) Human skeletal biology in prehistoric Vanuatu, Pacific Islands: Human adaptation to the island environment from initial settlement to post-European contact.

The eight project grant recipients are:

Dr Peter Dearden (Biochemistry) for Shaping animals: the evolution of developmental pathways: Dr Phil Heyward (Physiology) for Timing and sense of smell: how does the brain use time to identify an odour? Professor Robert Poulin (Zoology) for Genetic relatedness and optimal life history strategies in parasites: is blood thicker than water? …/2

Dr Jon Waters (Zoology) for Geological dates and evolutionary rates: using river vicariance to pinpoint the pace of molecular change Dr Henrik Kjaergaard (Chemistry) for The role of hydrated complexes in atmospheric reactions Professor Helen Leach (Anthropology) for The development of New Zealand’s culinary traditions; Dr Fiona McDonald (Physiology) for Murr1 - a new regulator of ion channel ubiquitination? Dr John Reynolds (Anatomy & Structural Biology) for Spreading the word: how sparsely-distributed brain cells learn to respond to the same stimulus.

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